I decided to do this review since Pantera is still a recent “discovery” for me. I never got into them when they were around (it was a timing thing, I hadn’t gotten into metal really yet when they hit it big) and only realized about 2 years ago that Far Beyond Driven is a masterpiece and Vulgar Display of power before it was also awesome. So I picked up this album about a week ago. Basically, I’m coming at Trendkill blind as if it was a new album released today by a band I dig.
This album sure starts off with bang, but on the whole, it feels like it waxes and wanes without ever really taking hold. There are some good riffs and bad ones, good moments and bad ones, but a lot of the songs don’t really feel like they gel as well as the tracks from Driven and Vulgar. It’s still a good album, just not as good.
I will go out on a limb here and say that I think a lot of it is due to Phil’s vocals. They feel really disconnected from the rest of the album, like he was phoning it in at this point. The vocals can be catchy, but they lack the verve and immediacy of the last couple albums. Plus, his lyrics suck. I mean, they have always been pseudo-tough-guy-look-how-manly-and-badass-I-am-overcompensation-for-childhood-daddy-issues, but man, the lyrics on this album are like the stupid parts of Driven for the entire time. We’re in Hed PE territory here.
On the plus side, every single song has at least one awesome, memorable part. The caveat to that is that the other parts of the songs aren’t quite up to par. It was like they had the ideas for a bunch of great songs, but didn’t quite have time to flesh them out and, as a result, put in some placeholder sections just to get the songs complete. Take Floods. Great song, the ending is one of the most beautiful riffs I have ever heard, but the verses fall a bit flat.
They get a lot more Southern Rock on this album as well, which is totally all right by me. Some of the best parts of the album are more rock-oriented. There’s also a rather Alice in Chains-y vibe going on with a lot of it. Good stuff there.
This mix is standard Terry Date, which is a good thing. I’m very happy the bass is a little louder this time around to fill out the frequency range because that bass tone is one of the best. He also tamed the boom-y low-mids of Dime’s signature guitar tone so they don’t honk at you and blow out the mix. I’m a big fan of the sound of this album.
This album gets a lot of things right, some fantastic stomp grooves and a great expansion (re-emergence?) of the less metal elements. I just can’t help feeling like something was disconnected somewhere and it could have been better.